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Long Island

LIRR criticized for weekend delays in Hamptons

Long Island Rail Road commuters' advocates said Tuesday that the agency should have better anticipated the holiday crowds that caused extensive delays Monday evening, as scores of Hamptons weekenders returned home.

The LIRR reported westbound delays of as much as 114 minutes because of "heavy holiday customer loading" on Monday evening.

LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone said the 10,685 customers traveling back from the Hamptons Monday was a 34 percent increase from the last three-day Independence Day weekend in 2008.

"We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience but similar to Long Island's roadways - bigger crowds going to and from the East End beaches during the summer can cause congestion on the LIRR," Calderone said in a statement.

The delays mostly originated in East End stations, where some platforms are only one-car-length long.

Four extra westbound trains that the LIRR usually runs on Sunday to transport the Hamptons crowds home operated instead on Monday. But LIRR Commuter's Council vice chairman Gerry Bringmann said they were not enough to handle the scores of extra passengers.

"They don't seem to accommodate for the fact that not all weekends are created equal," said Bringmann, who added that the LIRR did the best it could under the circumstances.

Council members said the high ridership was likely affected by the three-day weekend, the warm weather and New Yorkers staying close to home because of the poor economy.

"That's not that hard to figure out. You do a quick poll to figure out what the demand is going to be in the region and you schedule accordingly," council chairwoman Maureen Michaels said. "But they're trying to use a Ouija board to anticipate ridership."

Further delays occurred when westbound trains, already running behind schedule, were forced to pull over onto sidings in the one-track territory in eastern Suffolk to let eastbound trains pass, LIRR officials said.

The Hampton Jitney bus line, which runs between New York City and East End destinations, also saw high demand Monday, company spokesman Andrew Lynch said.

Lynch said more people rode the westbound Jitney than they did on the last day of Independence Day weekend in 2009 or 2008. He was not certain how much, if any, of the increased business came from typical LIRR customers.

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